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What Time Is It?

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Album Review

The Time's second album, What Time Is It?, is similar in many ways to The Time (1981), except better all-around, boasting three extended synth-funk jams ("Wild and Loose," "777-9311," "The Walk") that surpass those on the preceding album, plus a humorously wonderful ballad, "Gigolos Get Lonely Too," that tops any of those on the band's eponymous debut. In terms of similarities, both What Time Is It? and The Time are largely the work of Prince with the exception of the vocals, which are sung instead by Morris Day. Jesse Johnson (guitar), Terry Lewis (bass), Jimmy Jam (keyboards), Monte Moir (keyboards), and Jellybean Johnson (drums) are again listed as bandmembers, and though they certainly performed this material live in-concert as Prince's opening act, it's questionable how much musical input they had in the recording studio. Prince reportedly performed every note of music heard here except the vocals, though there's no evidence of that in the liner notes (at least not on the initial edition), as the only sign of his involvement is a production credit for Jamie Starr, one of his pseudonyms. Another similarity between What Time Is It? and The Time is the slim song offerings — only six songs on each album, and though half the songs approach ten minutes in length, there are slight offerings on each album, "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody" thankfully the only inconsequential song here. Any way you measure it, What Time Is It? is undoubtedly the better of the two albums, and the Time's most fully developed album overall, if not their flat-out best. Sure, there are only six songs, but five of them are fantastic, especially "777-9311," and the album itself sounds much more fully produced than its predecessor. Any fan of Prince's early-'80s work, particularly 1999 (1983), will find much to enjoy on What Time Is It?

Biography

Formed: 1981 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

From their origins as Prince's first pet project to their self-produced funk-rock oeuvre, the Time has been a fascinating and outrageous congregation. Vocalist Morris Day infused his cocky, swaggering personality into dance hits that would make Rufus Thomas envious, and, unlike most of the competition, the band managed to do something unique with Prince's genre-busting innovations. The Time broke up in the late '80s, with Day going on to a somewhat disastrous solo career, Jesse Johnson crafting two...
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What Time Is It?, The Time
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